Approximate Intentions

painting by Eddie Kennedy, 2018
Eddie Kennedy: “Invocation”, 2018

I was thinking today about a fella we like to call “the Professor”. Although I’m not sure if he ever attended college, I always loved his seoidíní eolais, his gems of knowledge, and he had many.

And I valued his perceptive opinions about art. He’d say that you start off with “approximate intentions” and then let the painting take over. He’d remind you to wait, to allow the mystery to unfold…

With watercolour painting, there are so many occasions when you are forced to wait. If you continue too soon while the previous layer is wet, you can lose the purity of the colours.  Wait!

But what is it about this contemporary society that has us ‘on the go’ all the time. Planning this, organising that, contacting such and such, meeting so and so…  What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?  Yes, of course that’s from the poem “Leisure”, by William Henry Davies – I have it stuck on my studio wall but shur – I rarely read it myself.

painting by Patrick Graham
Patrick Graham: “As I roved out”

Anyway, I’m giving a painting workshop this weekend in the dlr Lexicon Gallery in Dún Laoghaire and that’s what had me thinking about this. If only I could be as wise as our old “Professor”.

The workshop is run in conjunction with the exhibition: “Peripheries”  which presents three of Ireland’s finest contemporary painters from three different generations – Patrick Graham, Eddie Kennedy and Sinéad Ní Mhaonaigh. The exhibition is curated by John Daly of the Hillsboro Fine Art Gallery and it celebrates the versatility of contemporary Irish painting. It continues until the 20th of January.

Now, I’d meant to tell you more about the Professor, but I’m afraid that it’ll have to wait for another day now. He always has plenty to say about art and artists, often a bit controversial, sometimes a bit derogatory… but mostly just good sense.

We need more time ‘to stand and stare’…

Hillsboro Fine Art

Painting Workshop




      • Good morning Eoin, I’m looking forward to hearing more about the Professor and his seodíní eolais… When accountancy was my life, I was able to spend more time to “stand and stare”, perhaps because people thought accountants are busy and just didn’t ask for me to do more stuff… Now that painting is my life, people ask me to volunteer here and there, and I haven’t yet figured out how to say no, how to take the time to stand and stare again.


  1. Thank you for posting this! I love the observation that we are required to slow down and wait with painting. I love that about painting, but often I try to rush to finish because there is so much else going on, with the house, family, etc. Sincerely, your new follower, Elizabeth Matthews


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